Mariely Garcia is one of many students who found early inspiration from the Future Project, a social venture founded by two Yale alums that works with schools to help students realize their potential. As a New York City high school student, Garcia participated in programming from the Future Project and went on to launch an online campaign called “Perfectly Made” that encouraged students to celebrate themselves and their accomplishments. Attracting thousands of stories, Garcia brought her message to the streets, with a large rally in New York City that allowed young people to share their talents and “perfections” in the public sphere through speeches, art and performance. That early experience would come to define Garcia’s trajectory—one of both outreach and initiative. As a student at Bowdoin College, Garcia is now pursuing a neuroscience degree and recently won a Watson fellowship. She will spend 12 months traveling the world to discover what obstacles are preventing people from receiving adequate healthcare.
“We want to make it possible for any school to provide students with the experience they need in the 21st century,” says Andrew Mangino (’09), cofounder and CEO of the Future Project. “That includes leadership and developing social and emotional competency.”
Kanya Balakrishna (’09), the startup’s cofounder and President, met Mangino while the two were undergrads at Yale, both working at the Yale Daily News, he as Editor-in-Chief, she as Managing Editor. They now live and work together in New York City building the Future Project which will have a national launch this fall, moving from seven cities where they are operating now to more than 12 cities and several hundred schools.
The Future Project aims to transform school culture by working with teachers and students to get them to imagine how they might improve the world around them. They provide courses to students before, during and after school that teach them the skills they need to put their ideas into action. Finally, the Future Project engages coaches called Dream Directors from the local community who are trained and paid to guide these inspirational projects into fruition. Projects have included poetry workshops, campaigns for girls to redefine beauty, an online storytelling forum and a listening campaign for teenagers.
On Friday, April 21, Mangino and Balakrishna will be featured as keynote speakers at Startup Yale, an event that showcases top student ventures at Yale—many of them social ventures—as they compete for one of four $25,000 prizes.
“I have always felt that social entrepreneurship was a core value at Yale,” says Mangino. “The spirit of Yale really guides us. It’s not just about access to classes but to inspiration and a sense of possibility.” Through their social venture, Mangino hopes many more students can have access to the inspirational spark that is so central to the Yale experience.
Startup Yale will be held on Friday, April 21, 8:30am-8pm at Evans Hall, 165 Whitney Ave. (Awards ceremony to follow at New Haven Lawn Club). The event brings together Yale’s biggest entrepreneurship awards in one day of pitches, prizes and world-changing ideas–the Thorne Prize, Sabin Prize, Aetna Prize and Miller Prize. REGISTER HERE.
CONTACT: Brita Belli, Communications Officer, Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, (203)804-1911, firstname.lastname@example.org.